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Testing for Intoxication During Colorado DUI Arrests

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If an alcohol breath test or blood test was used to charge you with a DUI (driving under the influence) or a DWAI (driving while ability impaired), you might assume that a conviction is unavoidable. But that’s not always the case.

There are a number of reasons why your alcohol test may be invalid. Perhaps test procedures were not followed correctly or an outdated test kit was used. The result of an alcohol breath test or blood test is the primary piece of evidence in your case, and if it’s shown to be invalid or unreliable, it may be thrown out — and your case may be dropped.

A DUI or DWAI is a serious charge in the state of Colorado, and it’s important that you have an experienced attorney representing your case. I’m Colorado Springs-based defense attorney Christian A. Schwaner, and I can help you fight your DUI or DWAI case. I have over 20 years of experience as an attorney in criminal law, both as a prosecutor and as a defense attorney, so I know the criminal justice system inside and out. I have a successful track record, and I understand what it takes to litigate a DUI or DWAI case successfully.

To schedule a free consultation, contact me online or call 719-577-9700.

You Have Options

When you receive the results from an alcohol test that show an elevated blood alcohol content (BAC), you may feel overwhelmed and frightened. Even if you question whether your blood alcohol level was really elevated, you may be tempted to take your test results as hard fact, and plead guilty to a DUI.

However, it’s important to remember that a test showing an elevated BAC does not mean you can’t fight a DUI or DWAI conviction. There is a possibility that your BAC could be higher than usual, even if you did not drink a single glass of alcohol.

For example, some medications contain a fair amount of alcohol and could cause the machine to malfunction. And there is a possibility that the breath or blood test used to test your alcohol level was not correctly administered. When you are arrested for a DUI or DWAI, it’s crucial that you contact an experienced attorney who can help you navigate the complexities of your case.

Frequently Asked Questions about Alcohol Tests

Following are answers to commonly asked questions about breath tests and blood tests as evidence in DUI convictions.

What tests are administered for a DUI assessment?

An alcohol test is used to examine your blood alcohol content to determine how much alcohol is in your system.

When you have been pulled over on suspicion of a DUI, an officer may first ask you to take a preliminary breath test (PBT) using a handheld breathalyzer. You do not have to submit to this test, as the results are not accurate enough to be used in court.

At this point, you will have the choice between taking an alcohol test using a bigger, tabletop breathalyzer machine at the station, or a blood test. The blood test is processed in a lab and is considered the most reliable test.

If your blood alcohol content is between .05 and .08, it will be assumed that you are driving while alcohol impaired. If your blood alcohol content is .08 or higher, it will be assumed that you are driving under the influence of alcohol.

Any alcohol tests must be taken within two hours of the time the driver was operating the vehicle. The results of the breath test or blood test will likely be the most significant piece of evidence in your DUI case.

When might an alcohol breath test be invalid?

There are a number of factors to consider if breathalyzer test results were used to charge you with a DUI or DWAI. I consider the following to determine if the results of a breathalyzer test taken at the station were valid:

  • Was the police officer certified to administer the test?
  • Did any chemical factors affect the results of the test, such as hypoglycemia?
  • Was the machine properly programmed?
  • Did the police officer follow the 20-minute observation period before administering the breathalyzer test?
  • Was the test administered within two hours of when the defendant was operating a motor vehicle?
  • Were other testing standards met?

When might a blood test be invalid?

As with the breathalyzer test, there are a number of reasons the blood test of your BAC could be invalidated, such as:

  • Was the test administrator qualified to take the test?
  • Was the equipment used properly tested and reliable?
  • Were the correct procedures followed?
  • Were testing chemicals mixed correctly?
  • Was there possible contamination?
  • Was the blood sample stored properly?
  • Was the test administered within two hours of when the defendant was operating a motor vehicle?

What if I refuse to take an alcohol test?

When you are pulled over by an officer for suspicion of a DUI, you can refuse to submit to a preliminary breath test (PBT). You may refuse the handheld, roadside breathalyzer test without repercussions, as the results of this test is not admissible in court.

However, when you are asked to submit to an alcohol breath test at the station, or a blood test, I recommend you do it. First, refusing to take the test will make it appear you have something to hide, should your case go before jurors. Second, under Colorado law, refusing to take the breath or blood test may result in your license being suspended for up to one year.

As an attorney who has litigated numerous DUI cases, I advise that you take the alcohol test, and then contact a skilled DUI attorney right away to help you navigate next steps. Remember, an alcohol test showing an elevated BAC does not mean your case is indefensible.

Contact a Skilled DUI Attorney Today

I am an experienced criminal defense attorney who has defended innumerable DUI and DWAI cases in the state of Colorado. I am also a compassionate lawyer who will always provide you with an honest assessment of your case. I know how frightening it can be to be facing a DUI or DWAI charge, but you won’t have to do it alone. I will make my myself available to you during every phase of your case, so that your questions and concerns are promptly addressed.

For a confidential consultation to discuss the charges you are facing, contact me online, or call 719- 577-9700.

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